A Day Is Longer Than A Year


Theatre spotlights, dichroic filters, custom motors

Installation view: Fremantle Arts Centre, Perth.  Photography: Michaela Gleave

Two theatre spotlights hang suspended from the ceiling, their circular beams of light slowly orbiting the peripheries of the room.  Travelling in alternate directions and at differing speeds the twin orbs track their courses slowly, stretching and distorting as the focus shifts in and out of view.  Morphed by the physical properties of the room and expanding and contracting with the lengthening and shortening of space, the beams circle one another as binary stars, eclipsing at varying points as the two rotations collide and diverge.

Like spinning pulsars in the far reaches of the universe the spotlights measure time, their pace consistent and precise.  Objects in their way cause shadows, leaving traces of their presence in the beam, with the movement of light constantly altering the ambient illumination through shades of indigo, purple, violet and magenta.  Light is truncated and stretched, tripping over the angular lines of walls and windows, the reality of the image perceived entirely dependent on one’s position in space and time. 

Reminiscent of an empty ballroom, or stage spotlights ever scanning for a center of focus, A Day Is Longer Than A Year reflects on our shifting understanding of matter, time and space, oscillating between intimate experience and a constantly expanding knowledge of the universe.  The red and blue beams of light echo the stretch and pull of reality, the electromagnetic spectrum as it reaches earth carrying with it signifiers of space-times far beyond tangible reach.  

Inspired by a research residency with the CSIRO’s Astronomy and Space Science Division, this installation draws on changes in our knowledge of the universe over time, from light as an historic driver of scientific research, to the undermining of our notions of reality by quantum physics and theories of relativity.  Referencing in it’s title our basic markers of time, A Day Is Longer Than A Year explores the relational nature of reality and the impact that shifts in knowledge have on our understanding of ourselves.  

Part theatre stage waiting for an audience, part experiment in space, time and light, A Day Is Longer Than A Year unfolds slowly, consuming the viewer’s vision and questioning the validity of any single point of view

With thanks to CSIRO’s Astronomy and Space Science Division, Dr Ric Spencer, Robert Hollow, Helen Sim, Erin Coats, Wayne Kellet and Chris O’Dwyer.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.